Who: Zinovia, C’aol, Isolwyn, Zaimika, Eosyth, Daeserath, Yukijiath
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory
What: Fort’s leaders share Akemi’s fate with her (ex?) wife.
Daylight is beginning to fade as Daeserath appears over Silverfield Hold. He’s chosen to appear from Between directly over the Hold, to allow his presence to draw attention as he angles himself down into the courtyard to land. C’aol is quick to remove his flight gear and stow it in the bag attached to Daeserath’s straps before he makes his way to the ground. He looks to the first person that is in view and tells them, “Please let Lady Silverfield that Fort’s Weyrleaders have come to have an immediate meeting with her.” Daeserath reaches towards Eosyth, his contained anger pulsating under a blackness of control, << It is best you tell the green that we have come and to keep her distance. I am not going to leave this courtyard. >>
Whatever her feelings on the matter, Eosyth still allows the reminder of, << It is her territory that you visit, >> for her mate, the time that’s passed enough to take the sting of ice from her mind. << Her mate is ours to keep and bind. It is enough, for now. >> It can be no coincidence that she attempts to distract Daeserath with various views of their clutch as she rearranges the eggs, a thought spared for Yukijiath between one moment and the next. By the time C’aol and Isolwyn have been led through to one of Silverfield’s many receiving rooms, Zinovia has managed to hurry her way from wherever she was, with Zaimika quite literally at her heels, the girl holding a hand to her mother’s skirts in her determination not to be parted from her. The child tilts her head upon seeing gold and bronzerider, no plain recognition to be seen, but she relinquishes her hold on Zinovia’s skirts and bobs a wobbly half-curtsey. The Lady forgoes pleasantries to state, “I’m sure I can imagine what you’re here to lay at my feet.”
C’aol takes the time to watch Zaimika’s movements and her clinging to her mother’s skirts. He offers the child no smile, but kindness enters his face for a moment before he’s redirected by Zinovia’s words. “I would rather the child not be present for our conversation,” he tells Zinovia, “though it is nice to see she is growing well.” He turns to Isolwyn then, indicating that she should give the letter from Akemi to Zinovia. “Read this.” He waits for her to digest the news and keeps his gaze on Zaimika before turning to look at Isolwyn to gauge her reaction to the child’s presence.
The letter to Zinovia is clearly written in Akemi’s tight, focused, hand-writing:
I have had enough time to think about what my actions may have caused and what I wanted to do about them since I left Silverfield.
I have told Fort’s Weyrwoman what I chose to do all those years ago. In place of involving the Harper’s and facing exile or worse, I have agreed to remain at Fort to offer reparations for my actions.
I will not be returning to Silverfield. I have not had time to contact a Harper. You should have them draft our divorce and I will willingly sign the document.
I will not bring further or future harm to your family.
Without comment, Isolwyn offers the letter to Zinovia, watching her not for her reaction as she claims it from her, but for when she kneels down next to Zaimika and holds out a hand. “Why don’t you show me round your Hold, hm? I’ll bet you know all the best things about it.” Zaimika, too, looks to her mother for approval, then sets her hand in Isolwyn’s and lets the Weyrwoman lead her from the room, already babbling about what she likes the most about Silverfield. In the moments after their departure, Zinovia reads the letter and lets it fall limply to her side, fingers still grasping at its edges. “I don’t suppose you have any reason to believe me when I say I didn’t know it had been her doing,” she says slowly. “Even though to say so feels like throwing her to the wolves. It wasn’t some deception, inviting you into Zaikmika’s life, in the hope she might help you heal. If I had known…” She shakes her head. “I don’t know what I would have done, because I still can’t understand it. What she did is revolting and I told her as much, but what I think of what she did doesn’t change that she did it because of me. If you’ve come to bring the power of your Weyr to bear against me, there’s nothing I can do. I won’t begrudge you vengeance, I only remind you that I’m the root of it. I’m your target. Not my people or Akemi. Just don’t let Zaimika or my son see it.”
C’aol watches as Isolwyn takes Zaimika from the room and allows the smile he held back from the girl to flash across his features – a small, indulgent moment offered for the view of his Weyrwoman with his daughter in tow. The end of the smile may be visible to Zinovia as he turns his gaze to her. His features fall into more familiar lines of stoicism and the seething coldness of his gaze hardens as she speaks. “I have not come here to destroy my daughter’s inheritance,” he states flatly. “Nor am I here to target you or your people. Whether you will have it be or not, Akemi is the one who we are targeting. However, out of respect to Silverfield, and the scandal that will befall this situation, I am willing to keep it quiet. I will not be taking this matter before the Council nor before a Harper. Isolwyn and myself have determined that Akemi will serve Fort Weyr.” In what matter, he does not elaborate on. “You have given me permission to visit Zaimika and I have not used the opportunity often. I have made it clear that she was your child, and as such, signed my rights over to you exclusively. If I was allowed to have an opinion on the matter, I would tell you,” he looks sharply at her, “that you should severe your ties with this woman. It is clear she is not capable of making rash decisions. I would rather the daughter I gave you not be exposed to such… risky people.” He folds his arms in front of him and waits for her reply.
What flash of pain claims Zinovia’s features is clearly not for his words, but for the letter she flaps uselessly against her side in a small gesture of defeat. “No matter what I think or want, it would seem I’m getting divorced,” she says quietly, glancing down at her feet. “I’m sure it’s too late to be of any consolation, and I’ll admit that I doubted her feelings towards her before she left, but she was never anything but a good mother to Zaimika. She loved – loves – her, I know that.” She straightens her shoulders. “If it suits the narrative you’d care to put forth, I’ll have it known that Akemi felt stifled by the Hold and betrayed by my involvement with her brother, and so sought the freedom of the Weyr and more varied dragon company for Maozheth.” The word ‘freedom’ she does not let by without a cool irony. “I’ll state she served me with divorce papers. She may take the blame for what she did, but she doesn’t deserve what rumour will follow her for our separation. I can at least take the blame for that.” She hesitates for a moment before asking, “How long do you intend for her to serve Fort?”
C’aol lifts a brow at Zinovia and can’t help but jab a little cruelty her way, “Involving yourself with her brother and her both didn’t suit your station. However you want to handle the political aftermath of it is up to you.” By his tone and demeanor it would seem he finds her narrative not exactly agreeable to him but he does not serve her any comments further on it. “I have told her she will work for Fort for three years time. If, after that length of time, she has made a home at Fort I will not deny her the ability to stay. How the two of you handle your… relationship… in that time is for you to decide. I will not have lovers quarrels at Fort,” he reminds her, lest she bring such things to his Weyr. “So if you are to have any sort of relationship I will not have the drama that seems so prone to follow you following itself into the Weyr.” He doesn’t focus on any other comments on the matter. “If Akemi does anything to prove she cannot be trusted. If I find any plots tied to her again. I will not hesitate to handle it in the proper recourse. The Council has proved itself not to be kind to female dragonriders,” he reminds her.
Zinovia mirrors C’aol’s expression back at him and counters, “I really don’t think that behaviour unbecoming of one’s station is a path you want to tread down at this very moment.” The letter, she finally abandons, crossing the room to pin it beneath a paperweight on a side table. “One thing I’ll correct you on, seeing as it seems you’re labouring under a misapprehension: I have no intention of contacting her beyond serving the divorce papers she’s requested. Don’t mistake my wanting to shield her from anything for affection. Akemi has made her choice. If you anticipate any purpose in using her wellbeing against me beyond today, it will be a poorly planned thing indeed.” She folds her hands before her and, picking up what she must hope is a less contentious thread, suggests, “If you ever want Zaimika to see Fort, you’re welcome to take her to visit. Without advertising her presence to Akemi, that is. She seems quite happy with your Weyrwoman.”
C’aol lifts a brow at Zinovia. “I have done nothing to harm you all these years,” he reminds her flatly, “I have no intention of leveraging this matter against you. I am handling it in the manner I am because you are the mother of my daughter. I would not have this tarnish her future.” He watches her take the letter and the turn of conversation draws a thoughtful look from him that he then tucks away behind his usual coldness. “I will consider having her visit once we know that Akemi has been reminded of how we expect our riders to handle themselves. Once I am certain she is… controlled, I will ask Isolwyn if she would like to host Zaimika for a future visit. It would be my Weyrwoman who would likely be the more enticing person to visit,” he smirks and doesn’t seemed bothered by that distinction, “over myself.” Since they are on the subject of Isolwyn he considers Zinovia and says, “How I treated you, and the others, was not always… fair. I apologize for how I conducted myself during our… contract.” He looks away from Zinovia, a small tic fluttering along his cheek as he tightens his mouth momentarily. “Zaimika never needed the pressure of changing me,” he tells Zinovia, “and so I never burdened her with it. If anyone has changed me, it is Isolwyn.” He looks back to Zinovia. “She came here to confirm you would not harbor ill intent against our future children. I never thought you would. I hope we can continue to be… on good standing.”
“No, you haven’t,” Zinovia agrees easily enough, “but for all the polite talk, I don’t forget that, as much as Akemi’s choices were her own, and as much as she wasn’t encouraged, it’s inescapable that she made them because of me. To pretend I don’t believe retribution would in-fact be justice would be more than ignorant. To pretend you have no right to it would be absurd. If nothing else, you can mark it as an indicator of my guilt.” She tilts her head as C’aol apologises, any surprise well concealed, but before she can dwell she makes sure to nod to acknowledge his words and not refuse them. “…It was what it was,” she says more gently than much of what she’s spoken so far. “I’m not sure either of can describe it as our finest moment, but it brought us Zaimika. I can’t regret her.” One corner of her lips sharpens a little. “Even if she grows up to be as stubborn as you,” she dares to cast at him in dry, teasing tones. “Silverfield never came under much political scrutiny before the passing of my family. We were left to function as we pleased, for the most part. Fort, on the other hand… For the world to be watching so closely all the time… The Weyrwoman’s worries were not entirely unfounded, being raised in that savage environment. I didn’t take her concerns as a slight.” She tries out the idea of a softer smile. “I’m glad you have someone who cares for you. Just bear in mind that, if you ever decide to marry her and Zaimika doesn’t get to wear a pretty dress in-front of lots of people, it will be her you’ll lose your good standing with.”
C’aol does not have any answering smiles for Zinovia or any other indication of friendliness to offer her as he listens to all that she has to say. He bypasses any further opportunity to solidify a better relationship with the mother of his daughter by moving away from the conversation completely. “I’ve informed you of your wife. How you wish to handle it is up to you. As you said, Fort is under larger scrutiny than Silverfield. We will not tolerate any actions that Akemi makes that do the Weyr harm or myself.” He nods curtly to her and turns to leave. “I’ll have Isolwyn return Zaimika,” he tells Zinovia as he moves towards the door and pauses before he turns and offers her a brief bow. “I appreciate your ability to keep this separate from your daughter. Please continue to do as you have with her and give her the opportunities she deserves.” And before she could give him any sort of reply, C’aol strides out of the office and moves off to find Isolwyn and Zaimika. That he chooses to allow himself a brief visit with the girl is due to Isolwyn being by his side. He still lets Isolwyn take her back to her mother rather than further involve himself with Zinovia. Still, with no witnesses but Isolwyn, he gave Zaimika a brief pat on the head and told her she was growing up to be a strong young lady. As Daeserath takes them back to Fort Weyr, he touches at Yukijiath’s mind, << Do not plan on many visits. >> And then they’re gone.